West Babylon, N.Y. -. NYIT has been selected as the favorite to win the 2017 East Coast Conference Volleyball Championship in a preseason poll voted on by the league's head coaches. NYIT's Allison Fowler (Centennial, Colo.), a senior setter/right side, was also selected as the league's Preseason Player of the Year.
The conference's coaches think NYIT won't have another long wait to win a conference title after they captured their first ECC Championship in 26 years during the 2016 campaign. The Bears, who finished with a 29-6 record a year ago, received four first place votes to top the poll with 60 points. NYIT has 10 student-athletes back from last year's roster, including All-Conference First Team selections Fowler, Karolina Moderova, and Tiffany Verni.
Daemen comes in at No. 2 in the poll with three first place votes and 52 points. The Wildcats are coming off their best season since joining Division II and the ECC in 2013. Daemen was the ECC Regular Season Champion and hosted both the ECC Championship and NCAA Division II East Region Championship. Their appearance in the NCAA Championship was the first berth in the program's history.
Bridgeport rounds out the poll's top three with the final first place vote and 49 points. The Purple Knights look to bounce back in 2017 after having a streak of four straight ECC Championships snapped last season.
Fowler earns the nod as Preseason Player of the Year after a standout 2016 campaign. The two-time reigning ECC Setter of the Year finished second in the ECC with 1,110 assists and 9.82 assists per set. She also finished fifth in the ECC with 64 block assists and 70 total blocks and chipped in with 102 kills and 319 digs. Her outstanding season earned her a handful of postseason honors including a spot on the All-Conference First Team, both the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) and Division II Conference Commissioners Association (DIICCA) All-East Region First Teams, and the AVCA All-America Honorable Mention list. Fowler also elevated her game when it mattered most, earning ECC Championship Most Outstanding Player honors to help end the Bears' long title drought.
2017 ECC Volleyball Preseason Poll
|1. NYIT (4)||60||29-6 (11-3 ECC)|
|2. Daemen (3)||52||25-8 (13-1 ECC)|
|3. Bridgeport (1)||49||14-13 (10-4 ECC)|
|4. LIU Post||46||15-13 (8-6 ECC)|
|5. Molloy||27||6-24 (3-11 ECC)|
|6. Queens||23||7-20 (3-11 ECC)|
|7. Roberts Wesleyan||20||9-15 (6-8 ECC)|
|8. Mercy||11||4-20 (2-12 ECC)|
( ) - first place vote